Saturday, 15 December 2007

Kelham Island Blitzen

Kelham Island are producing some of the best seasonal ales this year. After the near disastrous flooding in their particular corner of Sheffield earlier in the year, Kelham have sprung back with avengence.

On tasting Blitzen, I got an instant hit of raisin and cinnamon. This is a mince pie in a glass. Further down the barrell the combination of malts came through with a warm banana aroma.

This really doesn't drink as strong as its ABV suggests so its one to be wary of. However its a pleasant winter warmer and being pale doesn't take anything away from the complexity of its malts. Sweet but not overly so, Blitzen has got to be a Christmas classic.
  • ABV 5.2%

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Oakham White Dwarf

Oakham Ales was founded in October 1993 by John Wood, who had been made redundant from Pearl Insurance. A purpose-built 10 barrel plant was commissioned from Brewcare and installed in two units on a small industrial estate in Oakham, Rutland.

John had twenty years experience as a home brewer and had a clear idea as to what style of beer he wished to produce. Having conducted serious market research, including putting questionnaires through around 500 pubs, John began by producing JHB and Old Tosspot. The intense hoppiness of his recipes was in part influenced by his experience as a home brewer, where the quality of hops available was generally poor, and consequently one tended to use far more of them. The choice of varieties was also influenced by the scarcity of Goldings and Fuggles at the time and the suggestion by Mr Paul Corr-Bett of Charles Faram and company that the American varieties of Mount hood and Willamette might be used instead. John chose to use yeast from the Home brewery as he felt it had good flavour producing characteristics.

Early in 1995 Hunky Dory was added to the product range, and the increasingly popular beers were travelling ever further and steadily winning awards, including Nottingham, Lincoln and Peterborough festivals and CAMRA’s Dan Kane award. In the same year John Wood sold the business to Paul Hook, the owner of Charters Bar in Peterborough, and the brewing was taken over by John Bryan, Oakham’s present brewer, who had been working with John Wood for some time and had attended a brewing course in Malton.

In 1996 the brewery was extended into an additional unit on the industrial estate and additional plant and storage were installed, and in the same year Bishop’s Farewell, a special brewed by John Wood for the previous year’s Peterborough beer festival, replaced Hunky Dory in the permanent range.

In 1998 the brewery relocated entirely to Peterborough, into the former Labour exchange on Westgate, where it forms the centre piece of what is now The Brewery Tap, one of Europe’s largest brew-pubs. The new plant was considerably larger than the old, at 35 barrels, and though the change of water caused some early difficulties the brewer insisted that the flavour profiles should remain the same, and his perseverance paid off.

Oakham continued to expand its product range and continued to win ever more awards, including, in 2001, the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain with JHB, which began to be produced in bottle in 2002. Recognising that the increasing popularity of Oakham’s beers would mean that capacity at the Westgate site would eventually prove inadequate; in 2004 the partners invested in a new site in Woodston in Peterborough and set about building a new 75 barrel brewery, involving the same brewery consultant who advised on the previous move, Dr. Dave Smiff of Yorkshire. This new plant is due to be completed in Autumn of 2006 and will finally mean having all the staff on one site, though it is not intended to de-commission the old plant at Westgate, where some of the seasonal beers and smaller brew runs will continue to be produced. As with the previous move, maintaining the same flavour profiles is paramount.

Oakham Ales continues to go from strength to strength, to add to its portfolio of beers and continues to win awards.

White Dwarf has a piercing bitterness in this “bright” English style wheat beer, mellowing to reveal fruit overtones amidst a dry as bone finish. A real thirst quencher.

This dazzling pump clip carries the Latin motto for the County of Rutland Multum in Parvo which translates as Much in Little. Rutland is a tiny county consisting of two towns, Oakham (home of the brewery) and Uppingham and can be found in the East Midlands next to Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. It’s motto is fitting when you consider it is just 20 miles across but within it’s boundaries there are more than 50 villages.
  • ABV 4.3%
Tasting Notes: An immediate sharpness on the palate leading to a rich burst of grapefruit and a wonderful dry hoppy finish characterises this bright ale from Oakham. Extremely refreshing, hints of wheat, grass and homemade lemonade with a truly sunny colour makes this a top ale for long summer evenings.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Abbeydale Moonshine

Abbeydale Brewery was founded in 1996 by Patrick Morton and his father Hugh. The business has for the past four years grown at the rate of 25% per year. The vision was and is to produce high quality beers by sourcing the best ingredients, and paying close attention to the brewing process. Principally pale malts are used in Abbeydale recipes with hops from the UK, and also from as far afield as Peru, the Western coast of America and New Zealand.

The name - Moonshine - breaks Abbeydale's ecclesiastical tradition when naming their ales. Still the instantly recognizible pump clip carries a sense of the mystical.

Moonshine is a beautifully balanced pale straw-coloured premium bitter with a distinctive floral aroma, leading to a predominantly citrus taste, with grapefruit and lemons to the fore, and a quenching bitter finish.

This is consistently Abbeydale Brewery's biggest selling beer.

First brewed in 1996 it was designed as a premium pale bitter to show drinkers of a very big and old-established brewery's offering just what a beer could taste like... After a bit of name-calling and throwing of stones, it had no trouble in establishing a reputation as the genuine Sheffield Gold Beer. It is now available as a "regular" beer at a number of outlets in and around Sheffield.

  • ABV 4.3%
Tasting Notes: A refreshing ale, fruity and light and not overly complicated. A well balanced combination of Maris Otter malt meets Willamette hops resulting a fruity - grapefruit and lemon, hoppy, bright pale bitter. A pleasing dry finish completes the experience.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

St Austell Tribute

A Supreme Champion Ale of Cornwall as voted by CAMRA, Tribute is a popular favourite with locals and visitors to Cornwall, as well as being a much sought after guest ale throughout the rest of the UK. It is brewed using specially grown Cornish Gold Malt and is a perfect accompaniment to chicken, gammon or fish. The ideal alternative to a fine white wine.

The St Austell Brewery was founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks in 1851 as a wine merchants and started brewing in 1860, St Austell brewery is still in the ownership of the same family. The brewery was rebuilt in 1891. The brewery has been operating for over 150 years in the town of St Austell in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The brewery is most famous for their flagship beer, Tribute.

Tribute was first brewed as a seasonal ale in 1999 to celebrate the Eclipse. At that time it was called Daylight Robbery. The brew proved successful so St Austell decided to continue the brew under its new name, Tribute.
Tasting Notes: This pale amber ale has a pleasing zesty aroma and this comes through in its flavour magnificently. This ale is fresh and loaded with grapefruit and orange. Bread and biscuits find the palate, this ale is sweet and has a subtle bitter twist at the end. A clever combination of Maris Otter and Cornish Gold malt married with Fuggles, Styrian and Willamette hops.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Titanic Deckchair

The Titanic Brewery was founded in Burslem Stoke on Trent in 1985 with one goal, to produce great beer! Burslem was the Mother town of the Potteries and had many great names who had started their careers amongst the bottle kilns and smoke. Wedgwood, Doulton and Claris Cliff all served their apprentices here dedicated to bringing the world the finest china. In Etruria just down the road Captain Edward John Smith was born. He would go on to command the world's most famous liner. It is in honour of him that the brewery was named.

The Titanic Brewery produce a fine range of ales, Deckchair is a seasonal ale brewed for the month of June.

Life sometimes feels like you are re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, when it does, make time for a pint that will relax and calm the most stressed character. Let the golden hue of the beer relax the eye, whilst the initial sweetness dries to allow the malt flavours to mix with a refreshing burst of citrus flavoured hops. Sit back, switch off and enjoy!
  • ABV 4.4%
Tasting Notes: Freshly cut grass and iced tea give Deckchair a welcoming aroma fitting for the summer when this ale goes on sale. Hoppy and light with lemon citrus notes which are instantly cooling to the palate. A sharp, dry finish makes this pale golden coloured ale unmistakably refreshing. The malt comes through as a fresh biscuit flavour which compliments the lemon wonderfully.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Kelham Island Easy Rider

Easy Rider is a 1969 road movie, written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern. It was produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. Southern also came up with the title of the movie, which borrows the slang term easy rider. In the early 20th century African American communities the term referred to a woman who had liberal sexual views or had been married more than once. The term appears in numerous blues lyrics of the 1920s. During the Great Depression a large population of Americans driven by poverty rode the railroad system & the term easy rider. During World War II era the slang term re-emerged with a modified meaning, G.I.s on extended deployment in Asia or Europe often employed children to perform the daily mundane tasks common in the military like tending to barracks and shining boots, so a G.I. who employed a houseboy coasted through this work and had an "easy ride".

Easy Rider is also a real ale produced by the Kelham Island Brewery Sheffield S Yorkshire.

The Kelham Island Brewery was purpose built in 1990 on land adjoining the renowned Fat Cat in Alma Street. The area is known as Kelham Island as the land is on an island formed by a mill race, leaving then running back into the River Don.

The brewing equipment was purchased from the Oxford Brewery and Bakehouse and allowed for full mash brewing of approximately twenty barrels a week. The first brew was in September 1990 and it meant that The Kelham Island Brewery was the first new independent brewery in Sheffield this century.

Due to its success in its early years the brewery moved into new, purpose built premises at Kelham Island, very close to the original brewery, in March 1999. The new premises has five times the capacity of the original premises. The original brewhouse has been converted into a visitor centre (which can be hired for private events)

Since The Kelham Island Brewery opened, all four of Sheffield's large breweries have closed. First was Whitbread's old Tennants brewery on Bridge Street followed by Bass' Hope & Anchor Brewery. Within the last year Bass' Stones brewery and Ward's have closed leaving The Kelham Island Brewery as Sheffield's largest brewery.

Easy Rider is a subtle easy drinking premium strength pale ale. The initial crisp bitterness gently gives way to a lingering fruity aftertaste.
  • ABV 4.3%
Tasting Notes: A pale yellow gold coloured ale with a weak white head. A light hop aroma bolstered by citrus notes with a hint of malt towards the end. The dry citrus taste of hop makes this ale's signature. The finish is fairly dry. As the name suggests an easy drink that's very moreish with a zesty taste - the hops really work in this outstanding ale.

Buy: On draught in pubs and in 50cl bottles

Monday, 18 June 2007

Mordue Workie Ticket

Mordue Workie TicketAfter much painstaking research I discover the actual meaning of the phrase behind the name Mordue Workie Ticket.

Workie ticket - nuisance or troublemaker (supposedly originated from men wanting to obtain their discharge from the Forces after the last war and who would thus misbehave or work their ticket in order to obtain a quicker de-mob. Hence, working your ticket, being awkward)

No awkwardness however from this ale from Mordue. The original Mordue Brewery was situated on Wallsend village green and run by Joseph Mordue, a brewer of distinction in the 19th Century. In 1995, over 100 years later, two brothers revived Joseph Mordue's superb ales, their range of beers gaining both local and national awards.

Workie Ticket is a tasty, complex beer with malt and hops throughout and a long, satisfying bitter finish. Well worthy of the title 'Champion Beer of Britain' award 1997.

  • ABV 4.5%
Tasting Notes: This sturdy ale is consistently good from head to finish and while not overly rich offers a pleasant blend of caramel and chestnut flavours. With a hint of plum and raisin, a malty brew with a reddish orange colour. I found this quite an earthy ale with familiar toffee and caramel malt.

Buy Mordue Workie Ticket: On draught in pubs and bottled.

Black Sheep Riggwelter

Riggwelter: from the Old Norse words "rigg", meaning back or shoulder and "velte", to overturn. If a sheep rolls over onto its back and can't get up without help, local Dales dialect says it is rigged or riggwelted.

Riggwelter is a full flavoured strong Yorkshire ale brewed using our unusual Yorkshire Square fermentation system. The result is a well balanced, deep chestnut coloured ale.

With its distinctive roast malt, Golding hops and banana fruit aromas, Riggwelter has the strongest and most complex flavour of all the Black Sheep beers.

  • ABV 5.7%
Tasting Notes: Riggwelter comes across immediately as rich, smoky and full of all those malty flavours associated with a strong dark ale. Chocolate, coffee and the banana reminded me of Bateman's Triple X although some argue with me about those banana notes. There is a reassuring bitterness with a nice dry finish. Paul Theakston's brewing heritage really comes through in Riggwelter. More flavoursome than Old Peculiar, Riggwelter does hold some reminiscences of that old favourite. With a thin head which holds its own this is a real ale which laces well and is very pleasing to the last drop.

Buy: Riggwelter is available on draught in pubs or available to buy online in a 500ml bottle
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